Translation from the original Japanese of a conversation between Yoko Ono and legendary illustrator Toshio Saeki
Yoko Ono- Hello. Is this Mr. Saeki?
Toshio Saeki- Hello.This is Saeki.
Y.O.- I’m Yoko Ono.
T.S.- It’s nice to talk to you.
Y.O.- I feel the same way.
T.S.-Thanks so much for your time today.
Y.O.-I think you are a very interesting illustrator. I think you are very fascinating.
T.S.-That is very kind of you. Yoko… Oh, may I call you Yoko?
Y.O.- Of course. Everybody calls me Yoko.
T.S.- It’s my honor. Thank you.
Y.O.-I think you are very special. My Japanese may sound a little awkward, but I think you are very unique.
T.S.-Is that so?
Y.O.-We used your illustration for the cover of Sometime in New York City. John and I really liked your work.
T.S.- I see. Because you put my work there, many people, like my friends, envied me.
Y.O.- Oh, was that so?
T.S.- To me, it was such great encouragement.
Y.O.- I’m so glad to hear that.
T.S.- My work is arousing, so there are people who feel antipathy towards it.
Y.O.- Well, I think illustrators do very unique things. They should provoke feelings. Also, some people might be jealous.
T.S.- Yes, there are all kinds of reactions including negative ones, that’s why especially, it was very encouraging that John picked up my work and used it for the album.
Y.O.-That’s very nice. John and I found your work very powerful and unique. We were moved very much.
T.S.- Was that so? I had an interview with Sean the other day, and– I felt from his writing that he loves my work like his father, John, did. I feel that John Lennon runs in his blood.
Y.O.-That’s right. It is redundant to say so, but John thought your work matched his music. He showed your work around, and everybody liked them. Everybody started liking your works then, I think. Sometime in New York City travelled everywhere. When I visited Russia, everybody was listening to the album. So, it is very important that your work was on the cover of that album.
T.S.- I am relieved to hear that directly from you.
Y.O.- I’m glad to hear that too. We felt that your work was the perfect match for the cover, and we were hoping that you
could feel how much the work moved us. Do you show your work at exhibitions or similar events?
T.S.- I started showing more recently, as there seems to be an increasing demand for my work outside Japan. This year,
I had shows in Israel and London. They were unexpectedly popular. A lot of young people came.
Y.O.- Your work must attract young people.
T.S.- Yes it seems so, and I am somewhat perplexed. But at the same time, I always believed in my work.
Y.O.- I think it’s only natural that young people are attracted to your work.
T.S.- Well, it would be great if my works can be seen by people of many different countries.
Y.O.- Well. Do you have shows in Japan, too?
T.S.- Very rarely, once in a few years time. I have exhibitions when a new book comes out. That’s what I have been Doing.
Y.O.- Oh. So, you publish books?
T.S.- Yes. When I have a collection of my works and illustrations, I publish a book, and then I have an exhibit to celebrate the publication.
Y.O.- If you are doing those kinds of things more, I would love to visit you sometime.
T.S.- Please. I will let you know when I have a show in Japan or another exhibit in New York.
Y.O.- OK. Please let me know.
T.S.- It was very nice to talk to you today.
Y.O.- Yes, me too. It was very nice to speak with you. I was hoping you could understand us better now. John would be happy, too.
T.S.- If I have a chance to meet Sean, I’d love to talk with him again.
Y.O.- Sean has been asked to do interviews, but he has rejected many offers. But he loves your work, so he wanted to do it.
T.S.- My house is really old. It looks like a house that has leaks in the roof. I have been living here, quietly. The interview with Sean made me think about things I normally wouldn’t.
Y.O.- You live in an old house? That’s great.
T.S.- I hope it is. But realistically, there are many difficulties. But Sean’s interview was sincere and pleasant, making me
forget those things for a while.
Y.O.- That’s very nice. The Lennons–John, me and Sean–everybody is a fan. Kind regards to you.
T.S.- Best regards to you too.
Y.O.- Well then. Please let me know when you have somethingcoming up.
T.S.- Of course. Please take care. (Hang up)